June 28, 1944

NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

That is not correct. The statute does not say what penalty the judge shall give; it simply states that the maximum penalty is life.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS-THEFT FROM POST OFFICE-FRAUD IN SALES OF MILITARY STORES-APPEALS FROM SUMMARY CONVICTIONS IN QUEBEC
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LIB

John James Kinley

Liberal

Mr. KINLEY:

The statute says that it may be life. That indicates what this parliament thinks of the offence, and it would appear in the statute without any qualification. At the present time there is a qualification, and it seems to me that when you leave only the high bracket you create a condition which makes the law more drastic.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS-THEFT FROM POST OFFICE-FRAUD IN SALES OF MILITARY STORES-APPEALS FROM SUMMARY CONVICTIONS IN QUEBEC
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Section agreed to. On section 2-Penalty. Mr. ST. LAURENT: I promised the hon. member that I would give the reason for increasing the penalty in this section. This is done because it has been found that the importance of contracts is frequently such that the former penalty was entirely out of proportion with the amount involved in the transaction. Some of these transactions run into large sums of money and it was felt that the penalty was not in proportion with what might be involved in cases such as the one mentioned by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles). That case is before the courts and the contract involved there is for amounts for which the former penalties were entirely out of proportion. The situation with respect to such frauds is not that the penalty provided by the criminal code is the only redress because there is redress in collecting from the accused person or firm moneys improperly received.


NAT

Richard Burpee Hanson

National Government

Mr. HANSON (York-Sunbury):

Restitution.

Mr. ST. LAURENT: Yes. This is in addition to whatever civil debt may arise out of the fraud that has been perpetrated. The amount was suggested and it impresses me as being quite substantial as a penalty. The penalty is seven years in the penitentiary or a $50,000 fine or both. That gives the court some latitude to show its appreciation of the gravity of the offence. We have had cases under the wartime prices and trade board regulations where fines of $25 and fines of $25,000 have been imposed by courts of the. same jurisdiction, thereby indicating their appreciation of the scale of gravity of the offence committed. In these matters which involve financial gains the monetary penalties sometimes have to be considerable to have any deterrent effect.

Mr: HANSON (York-Sunbury): That I think is true with respect to criminal acts. May I point out that offences under the wartime prices and trade board are mala -prohibita and are not in the same category as mala in se. There is a great difference between the two kinds of acts. But we are here dealing with an offence in itself. The other is merely an offence against what is an arbitrary restriction on the rights of citizens. You cannot make a comparison between the two.

Mr. ST. LAURENT: There are cases which can be compared, as I think the hon. member will recognize; for instance, the dodges that are resorted to in black marketing gasoline; the printing of false ration coupons, and other rackets that are resorted to for obtaining sugar, for instance, or some other commodity in excess of the quota to which one is entitled; getting out of a coupon bank coupons which have been used but not destroyed, and selling them. There are things of that kind which impress the courts before which the facts are proved as being rackets that have to be severely stamped upon.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS-THEFT FROM POST OFFICE-FRAUD IN SALES OF MILITARY STORES-APPEALS FROM SUMMARY CONVICTIONS IN QUEBEC
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNOWLES:

The case to which I was referring and to which the minister has alluded may turn out to have some connection with the wartime prices and trade board or the Commodity Prices Stabilization Corporation,

Criminal Code

but I would point out that it is the Department of Munitions and Supply which has laid the charge. The charge is that this firm knowingly sold to the government material which did not measure up to the specifications laid down. I would emphasize the gravity of that kind of offence. I pointed out previously that charges have been laid in connection with the manufacture of bedding which was supposed to have been made from new material or material guaranteed to be safe so far as health is concerned, but the charge is that the material was second-hand and not clean. This is an offence endangering the health of the members of the armed forces as well as defrauding the government and endeavouring to make unusual profits, if the charges are substantiated, out of the war situation. I agree wholly with the Minister of Justice that the penalty in such a case should be severe.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS-THEFT FROM POST OFFICE-FRAUD IN SALES OF MILITARY STORES-APPEALS FROM SUMMARY CONVICTIONS IN QUEBEC
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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

Is that case before the courts?

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS-THEFT FROM POST OFFICE-FRAUD IN SALES OF MILITARY STORES-APPEALS FROM SUMMARY CONVICTIONS IN QUEBEC
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNOWLES:

Yes, it is; at least that is the information we have been given in the house. I agree with the minister that the penalties provided by way of the amendment are substantial as compared with the former penalties. But the contention that I was making on second reading was that even the new penalties are not substantial as compared with a possible life sentence for certain postal offences. I accept the explanation, in part at least, which the minister has given in connection with section 1, but it seems to me that he still has to explain why there cannot be at least an equally severe penalty under section 3. My contention is-following the minister's argument in connection with section 1-that there may be cases of defrauding the government, such as the one to which I have referred, which are flagrant enough to call for a life sentence, but under the amendment a sentence greater than seven years and a fine of $50,000 would not be permitted. The point I am trying to make' is that the penalty under section 3 is light in comparison with the penalty under section 1.

Mr. ST. LAURENT: The hon. member will agree that if he and I were redrafting the provisions that apply to simple theft, or to theft with. various aggravating circumstances, we should find that the penalties which the code provides rather severe and we would probably be recommending a scale quite different from the one that is at present in effect.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS-THEFT FROM POST OFFICE-FRAUD IN SALES OF MILITARY STORES-APPEALS FROM SUMMARY CONVICTIONS IN QUEBEC
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNOWLES:

Certainly, and a better balanced scale.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS-THEFT FROM POST OFFICE-FRAUD IN SALES OF MILITARY STORES-APPEALS FROM SUMMARY CONVICTIONS IN QUEBEC
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Section agreed to. On section 3-'Fraud, etc., in connection with sale, etc., of military stores.


CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNOWLES:

This clause relates to section 436 of the criminal code. Suppose it be found that a firm has applied for and received subsidies from the Commodity Prices Stabilization Corporation and that the application for these subsidies was of a fraudulent nature, could a charge be laid against that firm under this section, or would that come somewhere else?

Mr. ST. LAURENT: I would imagine, on the hypothesis stated by the hon. gentleman, that a crown prosecutor would be apt to bring an indictment for obtaining under false

pretences.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS-THEFT FROM POST OFFICE-FRAUD IN SALES OF MILITARY STORES-APPEALS FROM SUMMARY CONVICTIONS IN QUEBEC
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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

Have there been any such cases?

Mr. ST. LAURENT: I do not know of any case of subsidies having been obtained under false representation. There has been no request to the Department of Justice to select agents to prosecute any such claim.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS-THEFT FROM POST OFFICE-FRAUD IN SALES OF MILITARY STORES-APPEALS FROM SUMMARY CONVICTIONS IN QUEBEC
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNOWLES:

Just to have the record clear, and in reply to the leader of the opposition, may I say that I have been asking questions both on the war appropriation resolution and on the order paper relating to matters of this kind. The final answers have not been given, but it appears that the Commodity Prices Stabilization Corporation is having some difficulty with some firms over this very kind of thing. I have stated before that I feel it is the kind of thing which should be run down, despite the dislike of my hon. friend for its set-up, by the war expenditures committee-

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS-THEFT FROM POST OFFICE-FRAUD IN SALES OF MILITARY STORES-APPEALS FROM SUMMARY CONVICTIONS IN QUEBEC
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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

What good would it do to bring the case before the war expenditures committee?

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS-THEFT FROM POST OFFICE-FRAUD IN SALES OF MILITARY STORES-APPEALS FROM SUMMARY CONVICTIONS IN QUEBEC
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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNOWLES:

Some good could be done if members of the official opposition would join in the work of the committee.

Mr. ST. LAURENT: There may very well have been cases instituted that would not be brought directly to our attention, because there are instances in which these boards have obtained the appointment of counsel to handle all their cases, and they do not have to come to us for special counsel. We would not be advised'of the individual cases where they had their own counsel appointed. But there has been no application for the appointment of an agent to prosecute for the return of subsidies improperly paid out.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS-THEFT FROM POST OFFICE-FRAUD IN SALES OF MILITARY STORES-APPEALS FROM SUMMARY CONVICTIONS IN QUEBEC
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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

Following the conclusion of the war, what will be the effect of this clause on the War Assets Corporation? There will be

Criminal Code

machinery and equipment which may be known to be defective and which will be sold both perhaps to servants of the crown and. following that, to the public. It occurs to me that there will be a good deal of machinery that may be perfect and a good deal that will be imperfect, and there will be many transactions on the part of firms, the crown and tlie public. It may be known by both parties to a transaction that the machinery is defective. Has that been considered, or will this clause have any effect in that regard?

Mr. ST. LAURENT: This clause relates merely to the delivery of stores to the crown and would not have any application at all to the delivery of stores by the crown to purchasers in the provinces.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS-THEFT FROM POST OFFICE-FRAUD IN SALES OF MILITARY STORES-APPEALS FROM SUMMARY CONVICTIONS IN QUEBEC
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NAT

Douglas King Hazen

National Government

Mr. HAZEN:

My criticism of this section is that the penalty provided is not nearly severe enough. I can readily conceive of a case where a- contractor would supply to the navy or the army stores, munitions and so on which were most defective, resulting in the loss of life of members of the armed forces. In such a case, to provide a penalty of seven years for such a defect is to impose a penalty that in my opinion is not adequate. If I were redrafting the section I would make the penalty much severer.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS-THEFT FROM POST OFFICE-FRAUD IN SALES OF MILITARY STORES-APPEALS FROM SUMMARY CONVICTIONS IN QUEBEC
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NAT

Gordon Graydon (Leader of the Official Opposition)

National Government

Mr. GRAYDON:

There is certainly a considerable difference between certain cases that have been mentioned and delivering and disposing of defective goods to His Majesty whether in the right of one department to another, where perhaps the life of members of the forces might be lost by reason of defect. The sentence of seven years which is mentioned in this particular section is considerably out of line with life imprisonment for stealing an empty mail bag.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS-THEFT FROM POST OFFICE-FRAUD IN SALES OF MILITARY STORES-APPEALS FROM SUMMARY CONVICTIONS IN QUEBEC
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Section agreed to. On section 4.


IND

Frédéric Dorion

Independent

Mr. DORION:

I would point out that in amending this section we should also amend two other sections. If they are left as they are they will create confusion. The first is 580, subsection 2 of which deals with appeals and the adjournment of appeals when there is no sitting of the court; and the second is section 750, which deals with sittings of the court. In Quebec and Montreal, I understand that the superior court sits every day. I should like to know how this will work with the new amendments to section 749. I believe that in Quebec and Montreal there are no proper sittings of the court because the court sits every day. How will this work with the new amendment?

Mr. 8T. LAURENT: Which is the last section referred to?

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS-THEFT FROM POST OFFICE-FRAUD IN SALES OF MILITARY STORES-APPEALS FROM SUMMARY CONVICTIONS IN QUEBEC
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IND

Frédéric Dorion

Independent

Mr. DORION:

It is section 750.

Mr. ST. LAURENT: I do not think there should be any difficulty under our section 750. The court sits every day from September 10 or 12 until December 20, and again from January / or 8 until June 20, and these appeals could be set down for hearing on any of the days upon which the court sits. If there is any concordant amendment required to correct the anomaly of leaving the words "court of king's bench" in section 540, that will be looked into. I thank the hon. member for bringing the point to my attention.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS-THEFT FROM POST OFFICE-FRAUD IN SALES OF MILITARY STORES-APPEALS FROM SUMMARY CONVICTIONS IN QUEBEC
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June 28, 1944